Friday, January 8, 2010

Some advice from Vandermeer

Jeff Vandermeer, who I link to on the right, is writing a series of posts on technique. At the moment he is talking about openings and using his new novel Finch as the examples.

He is talking about novel writing, but if you have any interest in writing at all you should read it. It can apply to anyone.

I am testing out a new tool to post a bit that I came across that I liked a lot.

Many times I find myself having characters notice things or say things they really shouldn't notice or say. The problem is one of two things. Either there is no way they should/could know what they are saying, or they shouldn't really notice what they are noticing. It is such a part of their everyday life that it should now go unnoticed.

Anyway, Jeff says it better than I do.

It is my feeling that landscape not invested with emotion or point of view is inert, lifeless. Like a historical novelist, when writing fantasy set in a place not here, I have an obligation to describe that place and make it realistic, but I have an equally important charge not to lard the narrative and the characters with excessive description or description that is not truly related to the viewpoint character. Which is to say that certain things are known to Finch and thus must be given over to the reader and other things that he knows but would not comment on or really register must be conveyed in a kind of shorthand, or conveyed in a context in which he would register them. That includes aspects of the setting, in addition to his interactions with other characters.

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